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一位视障天文学家的“听”星之路 – 译学馆
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一位视障天文学家的“听”星之路

How a blind astronomer found a way to hear the stars | Wanda Diaz Merced

曾经有一颗恒星
Once there was a star.
像其他事物一样 她诞生了
Like everything else, she was born;
她的质量等于我们太阳的30倍
grew to be around 30 times the mass of our sun
存在了非常长的一段时间
and lived for a very long time.
到底有多长?
Exactly how long,
没有人知道
people cannot really tell.
就像生活中的一切一样
Just like everything in life,
她走到了恒星生涯的尽头
she reached the end of her regular star days
她的心脏 生命之核
when her heart, the core of her life,
燃尽了所有燃料
exhausted its fuel.
但这还不是终结
But that was no end.
她转变成了一颗超新星 在这个过程中
She transformed into a supernova, and in the process
她释放出大量的能量
releasing a tremendous amount of energy,
比宇宙其他的一切都更耀眼
outshining the rest of the galaxy
并且 在短短一秒中 释放了相当于
and emitting, in one second,
太阳10天才能释放的能量
the same amount of energy our sun will release in 10 days.
接着 她进化为我们宇宙中的其他角色
And she evolved into another role in our galaxy.
超新星爆炸十分剧烈
Supernova explosions are very extreme.
但是释放出伽马射线的那一种爆炸 更为极端
But the ones that emit gamma rays are even more extreme.
在变成超新星的过程中
In the process of becoming a supernova,
恒星的内部由于自身 重量过大而塌缩
the interior of the star collapses under its own weight
它开始以更快的速度旋转
and it starts rotating ever faster,
就像一位将手臂收拢的滑冰者
like an ice skater when pulling their arms in close to their body.
以那种方式 它开始飞快旋转 十分快速地增强
In that way, it starts rotating very fast and it increases, powerfully,
它的磁场
its magnetic field.
恒星周围的物质被吸引过来
The matter around the star is dragged around,
一些旋转产生的能量 也转化成那种物质
and some energy from that rotation is transferred to that matter
磁场随之变得更强了
and the magnetic field is increased even further.
渐渐地 我们的恒星有了额外的能量 在亮度与伽马射线释放量的上
In that way, our star had extra energy to outshine the rest of the galaxy
比银河系其他部分更耀眼
in brightness and gamma ray emission.
我的故事中的恒星
My star, the one in my story,
就成为了所谓的磁星
became what is known as a magnetar.
给大家一个概念
And just for your information,
磁星的磁场是地球磁场的
the magnetic field of a magnetar is 1,000 trillion times
1,000万亿倍
the magnetic field of Earth.
天文学家迄今测量到最为剧烈的活动
The most energetic events ever measured by astronomers
被命名为伽马射线爆发
carry the name gamma-ray bursts
因为当我们观察它们的时候 我们测量出它们的释放与爆炸程度
because we observe them as bursts most or explosions,
与伽马射线一样强
most strongly measured as gamma-ray light.
一颗恒星 就像我们的故事中 变成磁星的那一颗一样
Our star, like the one in our story that became a magnetar,
当爆炸最为剧烈的部分发生时
is detected as a gamma-ray burst
就会被检测为伽马射线爆发
during the most energetic portion of the explosion.
然而 即便伽马射线爆发是天文学家 迄今为止所测量过
Yet, even though gamma-ray bursts are the strongest events
最激烈的事件
ever measured by astronomers,
我们仍旧不能以肉眼看到它们
we cannot see them with our naked eye.
我们只能凭借其他的方式
We depend, we rely on other methods
来研究这种伽马射线光
in order to study this gamma-ray light.
我们的肉眼看不到它们
We cannot see them with our naked eye.
我们只能看到电磁光谱中
We can only see an itty bitty, tiny portion
极其 极其微小的部分 我们称之为可见光
of the electromagnetic spectrum that we call visible light.
除此之外 我们也依赖其他方式
And beyond that, we rely on other methods.
然而作为一名天文学家 我们研究更广的光域
Yet as astronomers, we study a wider range of light
也要依赖于其他的方式来实现
and we depend on other methods to do that.
在屏幕上 它也许看起来像这样
On the screen, it may look like this.
你们正在看一张曲线图
You’re seeing a plot.
这是光曲线
That is a light curve.
这是关于光强度 随着时间变化的图
It’s a plot of intensity of light over time.
这是伽马光曲线
It is a gamma-ray light curve.
视觉正常的天文学家依赖这种图
Sighted astronomers depend on this kind of plot
来更好地理解光强随时间的变化
in order to interpret how this light intensity changes over time.
在左侧 你们会看到没有爆发时的光强
On the left, you will be seeing the light intensity without a burst,
在右侧 则是有爆发时的光强
and on the right, you will be seeing the light intensity with the burst.
在我事业的早期 我也能看到这样的图
Early during my career, I could also see this kind of plot.
但后来 我失明了
But then, I lost my sight.
由于长期疾病 我完全丧失了视觉
I completely lost my sight because of extended illness,
因此 我失去了看这张图
and with it, I lost the opportunity to see this plot
以及从事物理学研究的机会
and the opportunity to do my physics.
在许多方面 于我而言 都是一段艰难的转变期
It was a very strong transition for me in many ways.
从职业的角度上讲 疾病断送了我的科研之路
And professionally, it left me without a way to do my science.
我渴望接触并揣摩这种能量充沛的光
I longed to access and scrutinize this energetic light
并探索出天体物理层面的成因
and figure out the astrophysical cause.
我想去探索这种巨大的奇迹 并体会它带给人的兴奋
I wanted to experience the spacious wonder, the excitement,
一种探索如此重要的 天文事件产生的欢愉
the joy produced by the detection of such a titanic celestial event.
我一直苦思冥想
I thought long and hard about it,
突然间意识到一切光曲线都是
when I suddenly realized that all a light curve is,
一张转化成可视图的数字表
is a table of numbers converted into a visual plot.
因此我与合作者通力合作
So along with my collaborators,
绞尽脑汁将数字转化为了声音
we worked really hard and we translated the numbers into sound.
我实现了对数据的接触与访问
I achieved access to the data,
今天 得益于声音 我能以顶尖天文学家的水准
and today I’m able to do physics at the level of the best astronomer,
从事物理学研究
using sound.
人们已经能够去做的事
And what people have been able to do,
大多是可视的
mainly visually,
延续了数百年
for hundreds of years,
如今我以声音实现了
now I do it using sound.
[掌声]
(Applause)
听听这个伽马射线的爆炸声
Listening to this gamma-ray burst
肉眼看到的
that you’re seeing on the — (Applause continues)
谢谢——[掌声持续]
Thank you.
请听一下屏幕上显示的图表相应的声音
Listening to this burst that you’re seeing on the screen
你会听到 除了明显的爆炸以外 还有更多信息
brought something to the ear beyond the obvious burst.
现在 我将为你们播放这一段爆炸声
Now I’m going to play the burst for you.
没有旋律 只是一种声音
It’s not music, it’s sound.
[电子哔哔声]
(Digital beeping sounds)
这是转换成音波的科学数据
This is scientific data converted into sound,
运用音高的变化来呈现
and it’s mapped in pitch.
这个处理过程称为超声波处理
The process is called sonification.
因此聆听这种声音会为耳朵带来
So listening to this brought something to the ear
比简单的爆炸声更多的信息
besides the obvious burst.
当我研究这种非常强劲的低频区
When I examine the very strong low-frequency regions,
或是低音区——我现在切换到 低音区部分
or bass line — I’m zooming into the bass line now.
我们注意到带电气体的 声音回响的特征
We noted resonances characteristic of electrically charged gasses
就像太阳风
like the solar wind.
现在 我想让你们聆听我所听到的
And I want you to hear what I heard.
你们接下来要到一段急速减弱的声音
You will hear it as a very fast decrease in volume.
因为你们视觉正常 我会标注一条红线
And because you’re sighted, I’m giving you a red line
来指示转换成声音的射线的强度
indicating what intensity of light is being converted into sound.
[电子嗡嗡声和哨声]
(Digital hum and whistling sound)
那个口哨声是家里的青蛙 请不要在意
The (Whistles) is frogs at home, don’t pay attention to that.
[笑声]
(Laughter)
[电子嗡嗡声和哨声]
(Digital hum and whistling sound)
你们都听到了吧?
I think you heard it, right?
我们发现
So what we found
爆炸要持续足够长 才能产生声波回响
is that the bursts last long enough in order to support wave resonances,
回响是由颗粒之间的能量交换产生的
which are things caused by exchanges of energy between particles
不同的音量也许使这些颗粒
that may have been excited,
受到了不同程度的激发
that depend on the volume.
你们也许记得我讲过 恒星周围的物质
You may remember that I said that the matter around the star
会被星体拖走
is dragged around?
它传递的能量具有频率和场分布特性
It transmits power with frequency and field distribution
这是由维度决定的
determined by the dimensions.
你们也许记得我们 讲过一颗超重恒星
You may remember that we were talking about a super-massive star
成为了一颗拥有超强磁场的磁星
that became a very strong magnetic field magnetar.
如果是这样 正在爆炸的恒星发生的喷流
If this is the case, then outflows from the exploding star
有可能与这个伽马射线爆发有关
may be associated with this gamma-ray burst.
这意味着什么?
What does that mean?
那颗恒星的形成可能是超新星爆炸的
That star formation may be a very important part
重要组成部分
of these supernova explosions.
聆听伽马射线爆发 让我们注意到
Listening to this very gamma-ray burst brought us to the notion
用声音来辅助视觉显示
that the use of sound as an adjunctive visual display
也许可以同样帮助到正在寻找
may also support sighted astronomers
更多数据资讯的非视障天文学家
in the search for more information in the data.
同时 我也从事基于 其他望远镜的测量分析
Simultaneously, I worked on analyzing measurements from other telescopes,
我的实验证明了:
and my experiments demonstrated
当你把声音当作一种 辅助性视觉显示工具
that when you use sound as an adjunctive visual display,
天文学家就可以在 目前可访问的数据集中
astronomers can find more information
了解更多信息
in this now more accessible data set.
这个将数据转化为声音的能力
This ability to transform data into sound
带给了天文学一种 前所未有的强大转换力
gives astronomy a tremendous power of transformation.
场只对视觉正常的人可见的 状况得到了改善
And the fact that a field that is so visual may be improved
让所有对天空感到好奇的人们 可以一探究竟 无论视力状况如何
in order to include anyone with interest in understanding what lies in the heavens
这很让人振奋
is a spirit-lifter.
当我失明时
When I lost my sight,
我注意到我无法和
I noticed that I didn’t have access
其它视觉正常的天文家一样获取
to the same amount and quality of information
丰富且高质的信息
a sighted astronomer had.
直到我们在超声波处理上有所创新时
It was not until we innovated with the sonification process
我才重新开始希望 能为这个领域作出贡献
that I regained the hope to be a productive member of the field
并为之奋斗
that I had worked so hard to be part of.
然而 获取信息并非是天文学
Yet, information access is not the only area in astronomy
唯一重要的部分
where this is important.
目前它们是互相关联的
The situation is systemic
但科学界对此尚未跟进
and scientific fields are not keeping up.
我们的身体是脆弱的
The body is something changeable —
任何人在任何时候都有致残的可能
anyone may develop a disability at any point.
试想 例如
Let’s think about, for example,
那些在各自领域卓有成就的科学家
scientists that are already at the top of their careers.
当他们残疾时会怎么样?
What happens to them if they develop a disability?
他们会和我一样感到孤独无依吗?
Will they feel excommunicated as I did?
我们通过获取信息得以发展
Information access empowers us to flourish.
它给予了我们完全平等的机会 来展现自己的才能
It gives us equal opportunities to display our talents
让我们可以自主选择 自己感兴趣的事情
and choose what we want to do with our lives,
而不必受到各种限制
based on interest and not based on potential barriers.
当人们通往成功的路变得畅通无阻时
When we give people the opportunity to succeed without limits,
这将会给他们一种自我满足感 进而带来富足的生活
that will lead to personal fulfillment and prospering life.
我认为声音在天文学中的应用
And I think that the use of sound in astronomy
正帮助我们达成这个目标 并促进科学的发展
is helping us to achieve that and to contribute to science.
然而其他国家告知我 以研究天文数据为目的的
While other countries told me that the study of perception techniques
感知技术的研究与天文学无关
in order to study astronomy data is not relevant to astronomy
因为目前这个领域 还没有视障的天文学家
because there are no blind astronomers in the field,
南非的表态是 “我们希望残疾人士
South Africa said, “We want people with disabilities
可以为这个领域贡献自己的力量”
to contribute to the field.”
于是目前 我正在
Right now, I’m working
南非天文观测站的
at the South African Astronomical Observatory,
天文学发展性研究办公室工作
at the Office of Astronomy for Development.
在那里 我们利用 超声波处理技术以及分析手段
There, we are working on sonification techniques and analysis methods
帮助阿斯隆盲人学校的学生
to impact the students of the Athlone School for the Blind.
这些学生将会学习射电天文学
These students will be learning radio astronomy,
以及利用超声波处理方法
and they will be learning the sonification methods
来研究天文事件 比如研究从太阳喷射出的巨大能量
in order to study astronomical events like huge ejections of energy
就是你们熟知的日冕物质抛射
from the sun, known as coronal mass ejections.
我们从这些学生身上学到了
What we learn with these students —
这些学生罹患多重残疾 但我们有
these students have multiple disabilities and coping strategies
应对的方法
that will be accommodated —
我们从这些学生上学到的经验会影响
what we learn with these students will directly impact
我们在专业领域处理事情的做法
the way things are being done at the professional level.
我把它称之为“发展”
I humbly call this development.
现在 “发展”正在发生
And this is happening right now.
我认为科学是每个人的
I think that science is for everyone.
它属于全人类
It belongs to the people,
它应当对所有人都敞开大门
and it has to be available to everyone,
因为我们都是天生的探索者
because we are all natural explorers.
我认为如果人们因为残疾而被限制
I think that if we limit people with disabilities
不能参与到科学活动中来
from participating in science,
历史与社会的桥梁将因此轰塌
we’ll sever our links with history and with society.
我向往一个公平的科研竞争环境
I dream of a level scientific playing field,
人们相互鼓励与尊重
where people encourage respect and respect each other,
相互交换自己的策略和研究发现
where people exchange strategies and discover together.
如果残疾人得以获得 科学领域的入场券
If people with disabilities are allowed into the scientific field,
知识之泉将以洪荒之力爆发、喷涌
an explosion, a huge titanic burst of knowledge will take place,
我很确信这一点
I am sure.
[电子哔哔声]
(Digital beeping sounds)
你们听到的是一个剧烈的爆炸声
That is the titanic burst.
谢谢
Thank you.
谢谢
Thank you.
[掌声]
(Applause)

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视频概述

天文学家Wanda Diaz失明了,然而通过把光谱图转为声波,她得以重新观察宇宙。

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hY9QSdaReY

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